Introduction: How to String a Guitar

Picture of How to String a Guitar

I was surprised to find that there aren't any instructables on how to string a guitar. I figured i might as well do it!
I got some info about stringing guitars from The last time i used that site was the last time i stringed my guitar, which was almost a year ago! and i play this thing everyday!

look at this picture so you can familiarize yourself with the parts of a guitar if you don't know them already!

Things you'll need:

@ Wire cutters
@ A string winder
@ A pack of guitar strings
@ A guitar tuner
@ A guitar

Step 8 should be step 7. i edited my instructable, and now i can't rearrange it for some reason!

Step 1: Loosen All the Strings

Picture of Loosen All the Strings

Start out by loosening ALL of the strings. If you strung them right in the first place, you should be turning the tuners for the bass strings (the three largest and closest strings to you) and the treble strings (the three thinner strings furthest away from you) to the right to loosen the strings.

If you don't have on already, string winders really come in handy!
when my parents bought me my first guitar, it came in the pack. They're only 25 cents to a dollar depending on where you go. It's a good investment if you break your strings a lot.

Step 2: Remove the Bridge Pins

Picture of Remove the Bridge Pins

Grab your wire cutters now. Gently grasp onto the base of the round part of the bridge pin. BE CAREFUL as they break easily...i've had bad experiences...i think they're pretty expensive too, especially for a teen like me.

Anyway, being careful to hold the pegs carefully, use the saddle to push down the handles of the wirecutters thereby raising the pegs up and out of the hole that they're in

do this for all of the pins and remove the strings while you're at it. be sure not to do it while the strings are still tense! BE CAREFUL!

think of it as what you'd do when using a crowbar.

be sure to avoid directly pulling it out if you can, they tend to break when you do that..and the wirecutters or pliers that you're using will dent the pins.

thanks to Laserage for this tip:
in the string winder, you might probably find a notch in the end that you can use to pull out the bridge pins and avoid breaking them! i didn't know what that notch in my spinner was until just now so thanks Laserage!

Step 3: Care for Your Guitar!

Picture of Care for Your Guitar!

At this point, if you're like me and haven't restrung your guitar in over a year, you'll definitely notice that dust has accumulated. clean that up! according the the taylorguitars pdf, you can clean the fretboard with 0.0000 gauge steel wool and rub pretty hard without damaging it! Just be EXTRA sure that you don't touch the body and cover the sound hole before you do it.

If i owned a Taylor, i doubt i'd even consider rubbing steel wool on it...

and also, if you have a guitar wiht a high action, basically, the strings are way high off the fretboard, like my other guitar in the second picture. this makes it a bit more difficult to play the guitar especially in the higher frets.
to fix this, just simply sand it down in tiny increments. make sure you don't do too much, or the guitar strings might make a rattling sound! if you messed up or sanded down to much, simply cut small strips of paper and put them under the the saddle until it's at a height you like! easy peasy!

Step 4: Strings

Picture of Strings

Now get out your strings. The package usually has info on it about string sizes and color coordination and whatnot. save it if you must. i do.
If you threw it away, just arrange the strings from largest to smallest. i do this anyway just to keep them organized.

i don't know about you, but i prefer D'addario and Elixir strings. elixirs sound beautiful on Taylors ;-) <3

Step 5: Stringing the Guitar Part 1.

Picture of Stringing the Guitar Part 1.

Now here's the part you've been waiting for! There's bunches of different ways to do the next few steps, this is just one. Give input if you have any better info!

I like to work from closest strings to farthest, 6th to 1st, Low E to high e, Largest to smallest. (they're all the same)

1.Begin by inserting the end with the metal ring into the closest hole where the bridgepins go. (see pictures for clarification) Insert it so that the groove in the bridgepin faces towards the headstock. rest it atop to the ring of the string.

2.Push down the bridgepin into the hole, it'll push the string into the hole as well. while doing that, pull the string up. Again, while pushing the bridgepin down, pull the string up.

Step 6: Stringing the Guitar Part 2: Bass Strings

Picture of Stringing the Guitar Part 2: Bass Strings

Before you begin putting strings in, angle the holes in the tuning pegs so they are turned towards the center of the headstock at a 45 degree angle.

1.Pull the 6th string (the largest) across the headstock. It goes in the bottom left tuning peg. Holding the string taut, cut the string one tuning peg's distance away from the peg that the string will go in (see first picture for clarification).

2.Insert the string into the hole in the peg (see second picture for clarification). Tighten the strings by turning the tuning peg left. (Do this for all the BASS strings)

3. Insert pegs as shown in the previous step, and repeat numbers one and two for the 5th string (second largest string)

*FYI - You're going to be doing "stringing the guitar part 1" for all the strings before putting them in tuning pegs

4.Now the 4th string is where the confusion comes in. You'll notice that there's no peg for you to measure one tuning peg's distance! You need not fear, my friend, for all you have to do is hold the string right behind the tuning peg for the 4th string (third largest string) and while holding it in the same spot, move your hand to the 5th tuning peg. now you can use the 4th tuning peg to measure one tuning peg's distance! yay! (see pictures 3-5 for clarification)


Step 7: Tune Your Guitar

Picture of Tune Your Guitar

I'm pretty sure you know how to do this already, but before you do it, be sure to pull gently on each string to stretch it.

congrats you've just restrung your guitar!

If i was unclear at all, which i am sure, just click the link in the intro. it got me through no problem.
i was just not gifted with the art of explanation!

for any unclear parts, help me out and write a comment with something clearer than what i wrote!
(especially parts in step 6)

Step 8: Stringing Your Guitar Part 3: Treble Strings

Picture of Stringing Your Guitar Part 3: Treble Strings

5.We now come to yet another confusing peg: the 3rd tuning peg.
For the last three strings (the treble strings) rather than measuring one tuning peg's distance, you're going to want to measure 1.5 tuning peg's distance.
So for the 3rd tuning peg, do what you did in 4. of the last step, but rather than moving your hand to the 5th tuning peg, or in this case, the 2nd tuning peg, move your hand to the 1st tuning peg and measure 1.5 tuning peg's distance from there.
Tighten the TREBLE strings by turning the pegs AWAY from the top of the headstock, in other words, to the RIGHT.

Do the same with the next two strings.

(People will have different opinions about this, so be sure to give input.)

Keep the bottom-most wraps of the treble strings below the edge of the tuner holes to avoid creating a kink, which could break the string.


JosephP182 (author)2017-11-11

Hey. This was pretty helpful. Thanks.

DemianM4 (author)2017-07-05

Love it
Its tough

arionisa (author)2009-04-09

A few things I have found over the years. 1. Especially if you are going to be playing "for real" in a short period you do NOT want to loosen all the strings. Do one string at a time, start to finish. The tuning of the strings depends upon the tension on the neck. If you loosen all the strings, put on new ones, then start tuning, what happens is that with every string you tune, more tension gets put on the neck, bowing it, and every string you have already tuned goes flat. It can take between 3-7 tunings before they all stay in tune doing it that way. Better if you do each string by itself, remove the low E, put the new one on, tug a few times and tune, tug a few more times and tune again, then move to the "A" and repeat until you've done all the strings. At this point, get your heaviest gauge pick and "hammer" a few chords, then re-tune and repeat. It takes about 1/2 the time of replacing all strings at once then trying to get them all to stay tuned. I have done this a number of times just hours before a concert and had no trouble with my guitar (6 or 12 string) going out of tune on me even after an hour of playing. 2. In step 3 you mention putting strips of paper under the saddle. While that would work just fine for an electric ... or for an electric acoustic when plugged in, it will reduce the overall volume and tonal quality when playing straight acoustic. The saddle is what transfers the vibration of the strings to the bridge/bracing and thus to the soundboard. Strips of paper, being soft and cushiony (compared to the bone ((quality guitars)) or hard plastic ((not so quality guitars)) of the saddle) tend to absorb and muffle the vibration of the strings and can make a great guitar sound like a cheap-o. Better to buy a new saddle (they're not that expensive) and carefully, VERY carefully, sand it down to where it needs to be. If you can't afford even the small cost of a new saddle, then once you have your slivers of paper, soak them cyanoacrylate (superglue) and attach them to the saddle (try not to attach your fingers while you are at it). The super glue will thicken them up a bit, so when you are done you will have to (VERY carefully) sand them back down to the proper height. The hardened cyanoacrylate will transfer vibration almost as good as bone saddle will and you won't lose/muffle the sound the way you would with just plain strips of paper. Other than those few minor things, I love your post, although I was always taught 2-3 wraps for all strings ... then again, I have always guessed at where to start to get the right number of wraps and have had anywhere from 1 (low E) to 10 (high E) and never really noticed a lot of difference. With your post, I can now get a consistent number of wraps every time, something I have never accomplished in over 20 years.

dwidger1 (author)arionisa2016-10-04


texaslady (author)arionisa2010-06-12

I'm 72, and eggshell portrait artist and painter. But am going to give this a try. thanks for all. Texaslady

f5mando (author)arionisa2010-04-01

 Good original post, and excellent tweak, arionisa! Thanks from my students, too..

DaveR113 (author)2016-05-30

the most important part u left out the reason i came here and i don't see it

dwidger1 (author)DaveR1132016-10-04


Stringmyguitars (author)2016-03-07

Great instructions! Nice work

guitarfan (author)2011-01-29

hmm dude you can see on your string windner a smal semicircle hole on a side tha is made for that so you dont screw up your pegs they arnt that cheap lol

fordf150man (author)guitarfan2012-03-07

actually they are only like 60 cents each but yeah not the best to pull them out

fordf150man (author)2012-03-07

although you dont wanna cut the strings short for a couple days to let them set and after you tune them the first time give them a light tug and retune but very good instructable

Chainslaw (author)2010-10-17

Adjust the truss rod in the neck before you even think of sanding the saddle. It can be undone much quicker. (Also apparently you're supposed to do it in that order if you're setting up a guitar.)

dewexdewex (author)Chainslaw2012-02-05

What you do to improve or change the playability will depend on the current state of the guitar. If the neck - viewed along its length from the saddle to the nut - is slightly curved up, this is probably OK and the truss rod shouldn't be tightened to lower the action, as the neck could end up hogged. The tension in the rod only counteracts string tension to achieve an ideal neck shape/profile. In this case where the neck shape is ideal/OK and the action still too high when the strings are fully tensioned, lowering the saddle would be the way to go, I reckon. In the case where the neck's noticeably bent upwards to the nut, then tightening the rod would be the first thing to do followed by any adjustment to the saddle to get the action according to preference.

Chainslaw (author)2010-10-17

Your tuner is set to 441. Are you aware?

Chainslaw (author)2010-10-17

D'addarios are very nice, especially their coated strings. My friend and I tried Martin coateds and we both had breakages within a few months.

mrmerino (author)2010-07-11

maybe you should use needle nose pliers to put out the bridge pins instead of wire cutters?

lde47 (author)2009-06-19

Congratulations. Very nice photos. They do make a big difference especially for beginners.

westminsterwipe (author)2009-06-10

i find your views offensive and i am highy intlerant of others music is not allowed!

ToxicPinkPoison (author)2009-05-29

You should wind the string before cutting them. Put the string through the machine head first then measure off the same distance as you do before your cut it and then wind it. You also want to always make sure they wrap down under the previous wrap. This keeps it close to the nut. After you have wound them take your side cutters and lightly pinch and pull up (using the to of the key as leverage) as you cut pulling it tight to the key. :)

ToxicPinkPoison (author)2009-05-29

To make the ball of the string slide up the pin easier you should sand the end of the pin very slightly so it's a bit rounded. It looks like your pins are already but for a brand new acoustic they might not be. :)

badgerheadsuperhero (author)2009-04-20


badgerheadsuperhero (author)2009-04-20

If you boil the wound strings they sound good as new. I know, it sounds weird but it works. They gather a lot of grime, mainly from your hands, and when you boil them they sound new again. It is good if you're on a budget and can't afford new strings. I also agree with lock winding. I just learned about it after playing for 20 or so years. It does help with tuning stability.

fancypenguin845 (author)2009-01-18

argh strings are so expensive!

Pbyrd (author)fancypenguin8452009-03-17

At Guitar Center, Ernie Ball strings are like 50 cents per string.

Guitar strings are expensive? $10-20 a pack is amazing. CELLO strings are expensive, sah. You'd be lucky to get a pack of crappy ones for $90.

i know :-( sigh.

mkkrushmt (author)2009-03-06

awesome instructable... one thing though, is that if you play your guitar every day a string change every month or two is necesary if you want to get good sound, because after a lot of use, strings die. whoch is why i love elixir, they last really really long funny though i dont like d'adarrio at all...

painhertz (author)2008-01-25

If your guitar has a floating bridge (like most of my archtop jazz guitars) you'll want to replace the strings individually to avoid moving the bridge and ruining your setup and intonation.

mkkrushmt (author)painhertz2009-03-06

i have a prs with a floating bridge (i think) and i accidentally made that mistake when restringing it for the first time, didnt mess it up though which was good...

Noodle93 (author)2008-07-02

Man, I got a string winder with my acoustic guitar, then threw it away because I didn't know what it was ;(

mkkrushmt (author)Noodle932009-03-06

thats a shame, a couple of weeks ago i bought a string winder with a wire cutter on the other end, i think it was a planet waves product... whatever it is, the clippers are awesome...

JulianT (author)2009-01-18

can you restring a guitar with used strings?

alvincredible (author)JulianT2009-01-24

hmm i'd not advise it but i've definitely done it. haha avoid using strings with kinks in them. or horribly overused ones :D

fancypenguin845 (author)2009-01-08

nice guitar :)

atmcneil (author)2009-01-08

Most string winders have a notch that doubles as pin lifter, too.

lasersage (author)2008-01-25

Good on you alvincredible, about time someone showed those stringless fools how to get back in the game. Rather than using wire cutters to losen the string peg, my string winder has a notch out of it, just the right size for getting round the head of the peg. Yours may do to, it took me ages to work out what it was for, but sure gets those pegs out easy. Also, I guess everyone does it differently, but I often change one string at a time, helps keep things in tune nicely - plus less stress cycles on the neck. Obviously with your method you get a good oppurtunity to scrub the old finger gak off the fret board. Lemon oil is great for helping get off finger gak and preserving the wood (check what type of wood you have though, it may not always be suitable!). Sometimes I overtune - tighten all strings a semitone over normal tuning and leave it an hour or two. Then when you tune back to E, you don't end up with a week of strings stretching into position. Finally as a warning to first time stringers, once you've fed the string through the machine head and tightened it, you should never reposition it. If the string takes a kink, and then you string it again, it'll almost definately snap on the kink, man they sting if they whip you. Maybe I oughta write some guitar lessons for first timers, probably come in handy.

alvincredible (author)lasersage2008-01-25

hey i do have a notch in my string winder! haha interesting.. i've broken too many pins in my day :-) thanks for the info, friend. i never expected this to be on the homepage either! i just posted it last night at like...2am ahah

also, i use to do it one string at a time for tension's sake, but i don't know i've been needing to clean my guitar, and i think my guitar has that bar running thoruhg the neck. I guess it all just depends on the guitar you have ahha. and i was sad when i messed up on the 2nd string :-( all i could do was leave it like you said ahha oh sad day

reeeky2001 (author)alvincredible2008-12-15

Actually, you have a truss rod (that bar through the neck) and you can take a look at it on top of the head of your guitar. If you look where your tuning pegs are, there's a black cover with screws in it. Take out those screws and you'll probably see some metal in there, like a nut that's threaded. The inside of that nut is where the allen key would go, but I wouldn't suggest messing w/ it unless you know what you're doing. I've done a few truss rod repairs, where some schmuck thought he'd like a little lower action by messing with his truss rod. Funny thing is, he screwed it up (by over tightening), and I had to bend it back into place. That alone took about two weeks to put the neck back in place without severely warping his fretboard. Or you can over tighten the neck and strip the threads in on the nut. That takes drilling into the neck a little bit to fix it, usually. Either way, way to expensive to try without the proper knowledge.

n3rrd (author)alvincredible2008-06-12

If you are playing a steel string guitar (which you are), you can pretty much guarantee that your instrument has a truss-rod running down the neck. Classical guitars (with nylon strings) don't tend to have a truss-rod, from my understanding. The tension on the guitar is greater with steel strings than nylon. Most modern truss-rods are adjustable by an Allen key. Next time you re-string your guitar, look in the sound hole at the base of the neck. You should be able to see the hole for the rod.

robgonzo (author)lasersage2008-01-25

I was going to make that point too. You have a picture there of your string winder. The little notchy thing and the end is for pulling pins. that'll probably save you from breaking anymore by using you're wire cutters.

blugyblug (author)2008-08-16

What about making an -ible on stringing Nylon guitars? Because Nylon and Steel string guitars are completely different at the bridge and head

bob.smitty (author)2008-08-06

i don't know what the taylor site says (i don't own any taylors) but i really doubt it tells you to take all the strings at once. everything i've been taught over time is to replace the strings one at the time to avoid releasing all the pressure on the neck. old T-shirts are great to keep the grunge of your axe. i keep several pieces in my case, and wipe the guitar down after playing, in particular my martin auditorium, which is not lauqered. that way you don't get baby dust bunnies or grunge/hands oils build up. i see you've been schooled on the peg removal technique, but i will add to it. it's not the pressure that holds the string in place, it's physics. if done properly, you can pull the peg with your fingers when the string is loose. tap the peg lightly when you replace the string, and make sure the ball does not sit on the tip of the peg. the string ball cocks the peg in the hole and keeps the whole thing tight. oh, and i too have the same tuner... and, of course others (who doesn't?) :)

Bright Shadow (author)2008-07-28

Electric guitars usually don't have bridgepins. Instead, there are holes on the underside that srings go through.

bustedit (author)Bright Shadow2008-07-30

well, since this ible is about an acoustic, i guess it doesnt frkn matter, does it? ...unless you were just offering extraneous information to be helpful, then it's appreciated.

metalthrasher13 (author)2008-06-19

i got the same tuner but white

civiso (author)2008-06-12

if you play everyday, you need to re-string about once every month or two. nice guitar by the way. -I have an ARIA acoustic and I love it!

alvincredible (author)civiso2008-06-12

hahah i love my geetr too. I just snapped my string yesterday ahha so I gotta restring it again :D

clark (author)civiso2008-06-12

if you play it everyday, many people will say every two weeks, for an acoustic guitar.

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